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The Illinois Safe Haven Law

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Illinois family law attorney, adoption, abandoned newborn,Thirteen years ago Illinois became one of the first U.S. states to adopt a safe haven law intended to allow the parent of a newborn to safely and legally abandon the child during dangerous circumstances. The Illinois Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act is not only a family law statute, it also prevents parents who abandon their children from being criminally prosecuted for such acts. Since the enactment of the Illinois safe haven law, over 100 newborn children have be safely handed over at Illinois police stations and fire houses.  In fact, the 100th newborn was left at an Illinois fire station in December, with two other additional newborns following,  which places the total amount of children saved by this law over 100.

As a result, advocates recently gathered this December to celebrate the law and the need for more awareness regarding child abandonment issues. At the event held in Chicago, both abandoned children and their adoptive parents discussed their life stories in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Illinois safe haven law. Some of the adoptive parents at the event even went so far as to thank the courageous parents who gave up their children so that others could have a chance to become parents. Parents also discussed how quickly the entire process can go, from the time that the child is abandoned and subsequently adopted or placed into childcare, which often occurs in the same day.

Understanding the Illinois Safe Haven law

Passed in 2001, the Illinois safe haven law allows parents to abandon children no older than 30 days old at hospitals, police stations and fire houses, without threat of prosecution, or even questions being asked by the party that receives the newborn. Today, every U.S.  state has a comparable safe haven laws as a result of campaigning by the Illinois nonprofit Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, which was instrumental in getting the Illinois Safe Haven law passed. Once the children are abandoned, they are taken to hospitals for a medical check, and then they are quickly placed with adoptive families or in foster care. The process can be completed so quickly that a newborn can end up with their new family only hours after being abandoned.

The Illinois safe haven law prohibits the criminal or civil prosecution of any parent who abandons their child in accordance with the law. In addition to providing a safe environment for parental rights to be relinquished, parents can also maintain anonymity if they so choose. Though Illinois believes that undergoing the traditional adoption approach would be preferable, the state acknowledges the unsafe conditions that newborns can and will be placed in if parent relinquishment is not legally allowed. Under the law, the fire station, medical facility or police station that accepts the child must provide all required emergency services and care that the relinquished newborn infant requires.

If you need assistance with family law issues such as adoption, or have any questions about the safe haven law, contact the experienced Joliet family law attorneys at the Law Offices of Cosmo Tedone and Barbara Morton, P.C. today.
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